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Top 50 Greatest Cyclone Football Players: 15-11

This list is becoming rather impressive now.

The list is starting to fill out with some major star power and this week is no different. This week we have a done of Cyclone defensive legends, including one that made the switch from quarterback to linebacker. You may have heard of him. Oh and we have a full time quarterback as well this week. We find ourselves in the top 15 of the Top 50 Greatest Cyclone Football players list as we are officially two weeks away from the first week of the 2019 season. Let’s get into the list for this week!

15. Jake Knott (2009-2012)

Iowa State v Colorado Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Jake Knott was the first commitment under Paul Rhoads when he began his head coaching career at Iowa State, and was one of the main reasons that Paul Rhoads had some immediate success in Ames. Knott got onto the field as a true freshman, making 23 tackles, two for loss, on defense and special teams. He was an All-Big 12 honorable mention as a sophomore, when he racking up 130 tackles and 4 interceptions. Knott was a second-team All-Big 12 pick by league coaches as a junior adding another 115 total tackles and 2 more interceptions.

During his senior season, Knott missed the final four games due to shoulder surgery, he still earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. The story behind his shoulder injury is actually completely badass. As legend goes, he dislocated his shoulder, then popped it back into place himself TWICE in the Baylor game. On the season, Knott totaled 79 tackles with 2 interceptions. He currently sits 7th all time in Iowa State history in total tackles.

14. Sage Rosenfels (1996-2000) Bowl X Haywood Harry How/ALLSPORT

Sage, a Maquoketa-native, came to Iowa State as a quarterback that could get it done in the air and on the ground (especially in the famed 2000 season). He passed for a total of 4,168 yards and 18 touchdowns in his four seasons, and rushed for 14 more.

For me, I always associate Sage and shadow numbers, so here’s a clip of Sage in his first ever game in a Cyclone uniform which was against Wyoming in 1996.

Professionally, Sage played from 2001-2011, often holding clipboards, but sometimes either making NFL records (four touchdown passes in the 4th Quarter) or holding clipboards, this loyal son forever true had one of the longest NFL careers as a Cyclone.

“NFL: NOV 01 Vikings at Packers “ Photo by Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

Following his career, he can be found either around football or politics, or even in a tent dinking meatballs with the author of this section. (Editor’s note: Jared, why do you have a picture of you touching meatballs with Sage Rosenfels? Never mind. I forgot you were Jared.)

13. Joel Lanning (2014-2017)

Joel Lanning rushes two yards to put the Cyclones up 14-7 in the second quarter over #20 Memphis at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Jared Larson/Wide Right & Natty Lite

Joel Lanning may be one of the most important and well-respected Cyclones to ever touch the field at Jack Trice Stadium, and will forever remain special to many Cyclone fans for the rest of their lives. Not because of his shining stats but because of the hard work and effort and sacrifices to put his team before himself. Going into his senior season, Lanning could have easily walked away from Iowa State to play quarterback, but Matt Campbell had other ideas. Lanning made the transition from quarterback to linebacker, and the rest is history.

In three seasons in Ames, Lanning passed for 2,584 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also ran for 963 yards and 16 touchdowns. His final season he added 114 tackles as a linebacker and was named as an All-American and first team Big-12 for his efforts. Lanning is now back in Ames starting his coaching career with Matt Campbell.

12. A.J. Klein (2009-2012)

Northern Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

A.J. Klein and Jake Knott teamed up to form one of the best linebacking duos in the entire country. Klein played in every game during his freshman season, finishing the season with 17 tackles. He would break into the starting lineup as a sophomore, and finished second on the team behind Jake Knott with 11 tackles, including eight for loss. He also provided some defensive highlights by returning two interceptions for touchdowns on the season.

In 2011, Klein recorded 116 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks and another interception returned for a touchdown. He was named Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year and earned All-Big 12 first team honors. During his final season in Ames, he totaled 117 tackles and one interception that was also returned for a touchdown. He would earn All-Big 12 First Team honors again.

11. Ellis Hobbs III (2001-2004)

Iowa State v Texas Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ellis Hobbs came to Iowa State after having an outstanding high school career in DeSoto, Texas where he was a dual threat at running back and cornerback.

At Iowa State, Hobbs finished with 209 total tackles, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and 29 pass deflections. The 2004 First Team All-Big 12er had a perfect send off in Iowa State’s Independence Bowl victory over Miami (OH) with a game sealing interception.

Miami of Ohio v Iowa State

Professionally, Hobbs played for the Patriots and Eagles from 2005-2010, picking off ten passes and gathering 225 tackles before he had to retire because of an injury.

Super Bowl XLII Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Top 50 Greatest Cyclone Football Players of All Time recap:


50. David Hoppmann

49. Jim Doran

48. Brent Curvey

47. Tim Dobbins

46. Jason Berryman


45. Mike Busch

44. Jack Trice

43. LaMarcus Hicks

42. JaQuan Bailey

41. Tom Randall


40. Stevie Hicks

39. Alvin “Ace” Bowen

38. Nik Moser

37. Alexander Robinson

36. Ray Lima


35. J.J. Moses

34. Tracey Henderson

33. David Archer

32. E.J. Bibbs

31. Cole Netten


30. Austen Arnaud

29. Brian Peavy

28. Leonard Johnson

27. Ben Bruns

26. Luther Blue


25. Blaise Bryant

24. Chris Washington

23. Ed Bock

22. Ennis Haywood

21. Darren Davis


20. Keith Sims

19. Dexter Green

18. Dwayne Crutchfield

17. Lane Danielson

16. Reggie Hayward